Monday, June 10, 2013

Virtual Classroom Tools: Headset & Microphone

When I first started working with language teachers on the use of virtual classroom technology, one question that I was asked quite often is why a headset is necessary, especially if the computer has a really great internal microphone.  Here are some of the answers:

When one is only talking on Skype using the computer internal microphone might work if the teacher is in a very quiet office with no interruption.  Skype has a really good noise cancellation system.  However, in most virtual classrooms, when one is not using a headset, there is a chance that there will be an echo unless you are muted all the time.  It is very distracting to hear yourself as you are talking or a few seconds later.  I have personally done several presentations with people new to virtual classroom technology and as I was speaking, I would hear myself through the person's internal speaker.  If the person would have been wearing a headset, I would not have been distracted.  I did get used to it, but it was distracting and difficult to concentrate.

Another reason a headset and microphone is suggested when teaching in a virtual classroom is because of privacy.  If someone walks in, he/she can hear everything that is being said.  I don't know about you, but if I were a student, I wouldn't want to broadcast my efforts at learning a language with everyone in the room--only with my teacher.

A final reason that a headset and microphone is suggested in a virtual classroom is that it is more professional!  It gives the student a perception that you truly know what you are doing in the classroom as you have all of the tools.  Additionally, as an employer, I wouldn't hire someone who does not invest in this specific tool.
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